Finance Secretary urges end to austerity

The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary has urged the UK Government not to leave Wales behind in next week’s budget announcement.

In a letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Drakeford set out Wales' priorities for the Autumn Statement on November 23.

The Finance Secretary says Welsh Government's annual capital borrowing limits need to be revised as part of the fiscal framework discussions. Also among the calls is the need for a  Swansea Bay City Deal and plans for further growth in North Wales.

Professor Drakeford said: "In these uncertain times, it is important that we create the conditions for a strong and secure economy. 

"Economic growth will increase tax revenues, reduce unemployment levels and strengthen the public finances in Wales and in the UK. The Autumn Statement is a prime opportunity for the UK Government to move away from its damaging policy of austerity and provide the fiscal stimulus needed to support growth.

"There are a number of areas where the UK Government can take action to provide certainty in these challenging times and help us boost growth in Wales. The importance of a city deal for the Swansea Bay city region and a growth deal for North Wales are well rehearsed and need to be taken forward as a matter of priority.

"We are also calling for our annual capital borrowing limits to be revised.”

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has urged ministers in Westminster to reconsider its decision not to devolve Air Passenger Duty and to push forward with scrapping the Severn Bridge tolls. "All of these are vitally important issues for business confidence and for the long-term economic wellbeing of people and communities in Wales” Professor Drakeford said.

"Despite real-terms cuts to our overall budget by the UK Government, we are doing all we can to protect our public services from the worst effects of on-going austerity and fiscal uncertainty. 

"Now is the time for a new approach - that's why we want the UK Government to end its austerity politics and provide a much-needed infrastructure investment stimulus. "In these uncertain times, the Welsh Government is determined to provide stability and ambition and deliver a prosperous and secure Wales."

Meanwhile Plaid Cymru is urging Phillip Hammond  to use his Autumn Statement to bring infrastructure spending "back to 2008
 levels, in a bid to rebalance the economy."

Criticising Westminster's "chronic obsession" with the south east of England, the party's Treasury spokesperson,
Jonathan Edwards MP said: "The long-term economic plan has failed. Westminster's austerity programme has starved our economy and the Chancellor must acknowledge this and act accordingly.

"Infrastructure spending must be brought back up to 2008 levels and it should be spread evenly across the whole
 of the United Kingdom. Westminster's chronic obsession with the south east of England cannot continue.

"Some parts of the UK have seen major infrastructure investment but Wales is asked to settle for crumbs from
 the Westminster table." he added.

The Chancellor will unveil his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

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